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“But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” — Acts 1:8

I can’t tell you the number of times when I was a pastor, that in my zeal to do something for God and my church, I jumped out way ahead of Him. By His mercy, I can say that not all those times ended up as disasters—but there were enough failures to learn a lesson or two—or three (or more)!

I also found that a church can’t go very far—no matter how highly they are organized—without the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. So many have tried and that’s why when they open their doors on Sunday mornings, they find there’s no more people there than the week before (often less), plus there’s a baptismal heater that never gets fired up anymore (Acts 2:38-39)!

Hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was disturbed with “business as usual” Christianity. He knew that the only way Christians could be shaken out of their lethargy was if they had a fresh touch of the Spirit. Just as Jesus is described both as a meek lamb and as a fearsome lion, so the Holy Spirit is described as both a dove and fire. Sometimes Christians need to experience the Holy Spirit as a gentle dove, but often we need to know Him as a roaring fire.*

I love this illustration from God’s Little Devotional Book that makes that point:

A young ensign had nearly completed his first overseas tour of sea duty when he was given an opportunity to display his ability at getting the ship under way. With a stream of crisp commands, he had the decks buzzing with men and soon, the ship had left port and was steaming out of the channel.

The ensign’s efficiency had been remarkable. In fact, the deck was abuzz with talk that he had set a new record for getting a destroyer under way. The ensign glowed at his accomplishment and was not all that surprised when another seaman approached him with a message from the captain. He was, however, a bit perplexed to find that it was a radio message, and he was even more shocked when he read:

“My personal congratulations upon completing your underway preparation exercise according to the book and with amazing speed. In your haste, however, you have overlooked one of the unwritten rules, make sure the Captain is aboard before getting under way!”

So dear friends, when you and/or your church set out to do God’s work, no matter how good you think you look in the process, you better make sure that the Captain is on board before you leave the dock (John 15:26-27). — Maranatha!

* The One Year Book of Hymns, Tyndale House Publishers

To help us walk closer with God and to know Him better

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